First Entries

Only a few Jews had found their way to the nation’s capital prior to the 1850s. Fleeing harsh restrictions, German-speaking Jewish immigrants began arriving in the decade before the Civil War.

By 1880, Washington’s Jewish immigrant community of 1,375 sustained two synagogues and a variety of social organizations. The community took responsibility for fellow Jews and pressed Congress and the President on national and international issues.

1869 drawing of Washington DC

1869: This view looking east from 17th Street, NW, shows 19th-century Washington, D.C., from the White House to the Capitol.

Courtesy of Albert H. Small.

1869 drawing of Washington DC